The Roles of Brands in Businesses
Today’s post concludes a four-part series, A Brand Strategy for the Republican Party — and Your Business Too. After reviewing in Part One the problem with the way both parties’ brands are currently being used and introducing in Part Two the concept of a “driver brand,” Part Three: A Third Way — Political Parties As Endorser Brands recommended that political parties to operate as endorser brands. Just as Marriott serves as the endorser brand for its hotel chains, e.g., Courtyard by Marriott and Marriott Residence Inn, a party would signal some level of standardization and affiliation, but would not be critical to a candidate’s identity. So what does this have to do with business and the management of organization brands, product brands, and brand portfolios?
The first implication is that a brand can’t be considered separately from a product. If your brand “sucks,” it’s very unlikely that your product is compelling and valuable – the more probable reality is that your product isn’t that great.
Businesses have to recognize that a brand is more than a veneer. The Republican Party isn’t defined by the elephant icon, the GOP name, or some dog whistle-like symbol. Its brand power — or lack thereof — comes from the role it plays in shaping candidates, government, and people’s lives. In the same way, your brand is the bundle of values and attributes that define the value you deliver to customers and the way you do business. “Branding” may involve catch phrases and cool visuals, but brand-building requires more. When a brand is understood, developed, and managed the way great brands do, it is far more substantial and meaningful.
The second implication is that companies should carefully consider the roles of the brands in their portfolio and selectively designate the driver brand. And as with political parties, these roles may change over time. To help determine the role of the organization brand, the book Brand Leadership provides a series of questions whose answers reveal the right position for your company on the brand relationship spectrum.
For example, “Does the master [organization] brand contribute to the offering by adding associations enhancing the value proposition?” In other words, if the organization brand makes the product more appealing in the eyes of the customer by conveying additional attractive dimensions, then you should use a branded house strategy in order to position it as a driver. But, if the organization brand detracts or distracts from the appeal of the product brand, then its influence should be downplayed by using the house of brands approach — and an endorser brand should be considered as a middle ground. Another question is “Does the master [organization] brand contribute to the offering by adding credibility?” The answer indicates whether or not it has endorsement value.
Whether you’re the Republican National Committee or an executive at a corporation that sells a portfolio of products, how you conceive of your brands and the roles you assign them may be as important as the meaning you want to imbue them with.